My friend Bill just wrote a good post about the series of questions that need to be answered in order to even make a start on overcoming alcoholism. He details the process of surrender like this:
1) Do I have a problem?
2) Should I stop drinking?
3) Should I do so right now?
4) How will I do it?
I would agree that this is a logical series of questions to go through with someone who might be thinking about stopping.
But I think that the average person needs to understand that these questions might be answered slowly–one at a time–over a period of several years. Allow me to illustrate using myself as an example:
My own process of surrender
Just like every other alcoholic out there, I did not think that I initially had a problem with it (duh!). No one ever does at first.
This is because, in the beginning, we are still having way to much fun with booze to consider the fact that we might want to stop for any reason. Even when small consequences start to creep into our lives, the fun level is still way to high.
Because we have never truly tried to stop drinking, we have no clue that we are alcoholic. None whatsoever. Why would we even think it is a possibility? We haven’t tried to quit yet!
Of course at this point, our denial might stretch on for years and years as we progress in our disease and suffer greater and greater consequences with our drinking.
In my own case, some years did pass, and I had been to a rehab or 2, and I was still drinking. And I knew full well that I was a certified alcoholic….no doubt in my mind about it. So really, I had made peace with questions #1 and 2 listed above. I knew that I had a problem and that I probably should stop.
My excuse was that the solutions for recovery would not work for me, and that AA would not work for me, so I basically argued that I could not feasibly stop drinking. This was my logic and my rationalization for continuing to drink. I was trapped, and I knew it, and I proclaimed to the world that recovery programs would not…could not work for me.
But of course they did work, and I eventually went to a long term treatment center and attended AA and now I am living a creative life in recovery, and I work with recovering alcoholics and addicts on a daily basis. This is such a gift in spite of myself (who proclaimed that I could never get clean and sober).
And my point in all this is that I actually did answer the questions that Bill posed up above, but it took me several years to do it. I answered them one at a time, in my own way, and of course I am still working on that last question (How will I do it? How exactly will I recover?).
Recovery keeps unfolding before me. That’s why we call it a process.